What is Dance?

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What is Dance?

“There are almost as many definitions of dance as there are people writing about dance. There is great disagreement on how broad this definition should be. Some definitions include practically all human movement while Websters’s Dictionary limits it to ��rhythmic movement of the feet or body, ordinarily to music’. Others assert that unless movement has symbolic meaning or expresses emotion, it is not dance. Still others claim that even animals can express emotion through movement, and therefore they dance. Exploring the meaning of dance, as expressed in either choreography or the written word or both, has become a lifelong search for some individuals.” (Lihs, p.1).

The quotations that follow reflect the ideas of various persons involved in the experience of dance. Each comment highlights a different aspect of dance and yet they have some commonalities as well. Respond to these questions:

➢ What are some commonalities that you find among these various expressions?
➢ What are some differences?
➢ As an individual viewer of dance, you will be developing your own personal aesthetic and viewpoint to the experience of dance. As you read the viewpoints on page two, pick one that most closely aligns with your viewpoint and discuss how so. Feel free to add an additional quote if you have one that you can relate to.
➢ Do a little Web or textbook search and find out a bit about the person whose quote you picked (some may not be available on the web). Report on what you found.

Write your response on a separate page of and then save it to a folder on your desktop or disc to submit to the web course. Your paper should be saved as follows:
Example: Response 1_your last name.doc
Responsel 1_Smith.doc

Lihs, H. (2002). Appreciating dance: A guide to the world’s liveliest art. 3rd Ed. Highstown, NJ: Princeton Book Co.
Dils, A., and Cooper, A. (2001). Moving history/dancing cultures: A dance history reader. Middletown, CT: Wsleyan University Press.

(feel free to add a quote of your own finding)

Ted Shawn
“Here the constants of beauty, ease, proportion, vitality, technical mastery, of the communication of ecstacy to the beholder, are within one’s body-soul. And the greatest constant of all is that we experience a rhythmic beauty, the activity of God Himself.”

Walter Sorell
“Movement is the essence of life, dance is its ultimate expression…The artist creates out of the world that has made him in order to remake it according to the image of his inner world.”

Jose Limon
“Movement in order to have power and beauty, must spring from the organic center of the body. It must be intensely human, or it will be gymnastics, and mechanical and empty.”

Mary Wigman
“What are we looking for? To attune our inmost feelings to the mood of the time.”

Isadora Duncan
“The dance is love, it is only love, it alone, and that is enough…now, I would like to no longer dance to anything but the rhythm of my soul.”

Alvin Ailey
“I think that dance should primarily be entertainment. It ��s a visual theater and an oral theater…beautiful people, beautifully dressed, doing beautiful and meaningful things.”

Rishit Sheth, P.S. 102 (Elementary School) Queens, NY (YOU WON’T FIND HIM ON THE WEB)
“What is dance! Dance is entertainment. Experiencing the movement. Feeling the beat. Following the rhythm. Balancing the steps. Practicing on stage. That’s Dance.”

George Balanchine
“I never think I am going to do something original. You just do what you want to do…our movements have to be performed in the composer’s time. That’s what makes ballet so exciting- the movements of the body in time.”

Charles Weidman
“The artist is…the bearer of a message, and it is his responsibility to tell it- in whatever medium it might be- intelligently, forcefully, and with his utmost artistic ability.”

Twyla Tharp
“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.”

Joan Acocella
“No, dance is not a portrayal of the way we live, and to think that it is seems to me to betray an excessive attachment to the way we live, or the way we explain our lives to ourselves, in the language of reason and morals. As everyone knows, the mind can operate in completely different languages- dream, music, higher mathematics- and dance is one of those languages. Its logic is not discursive but lyric. Like music, it is a force field, an orchestration of lines of force, lines of energy, and that is the only way to start understanding it. Dance is not a story; it is a song.”

note: please choose Twyla Tharp


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